We Love Van!

Yesterday, Wahine and I made our first jaunt since the pandemic–a dash, really–to Vancouver for the day.

I really can’t say enough good about Vancouver. It was a beautiful, warm early Fall Sunday morning when we arrived in the English Bay neighborhood for breakfast at our beloved Red Umbrella. People were out strolling up and down Davie, many with their dogs.

This is not necessarily in universal contrast to Seattle, but… People were friendly. They looked relaxed, happy and healthy. Clerks and servers were eager and helpful. Passersby were dressed better. The city was clean. The freeways, bridges and streets were in good repair. Businesses–even service stations-- had restrooms for customers. Despite (what we had read about as Van’s) opioid epidemic, we saw no panhandlers and no homeless tent encampments. Even the dogs passing on the street outside were chill and socialized. For all the high-rise development in Van, there are still large swaths of varied single-story shops and restaurants, rather than unwelcoming, all-the-same mixed-use spaces.

Specific to dining, we were told that the Red Umbrella’s kitchen was running 45 minutes behind in getting food out. No one got bent or raised hell or stomped out, not because the food is great (It is), but because people were unhurredly relaxed. Patrons held the doors for each other, said “Excuse me” in a polite, appropriate, defensive way. And of course our breakfasts were excellent. Payment is at the counter here, with patrons doing the non-spoof version of “No, you first”, No, after you, I insist" routine.

Another reason for our quick trip was to replenish our stock of over-the-counter drugs that (senselessly) are unavailable in USA without a Rx–which means a $$ doctor visit. Easy-peasy, and the store’s cosmetics manager fell all over herself comping Wahine with an embarassingly generous supply of makeup and perfume samples.

We sure missed Van over the 3-years of pandemic and related closures. We drove home vowing to return soon to replenish our stores of humanity and social grace that pervade this beautiful city. Can anyone describe from experience the NEXXUS interview process, to get approved to across the border fast(er)? Thanks.


We were just talking about needing to get back to CA, having not been since pre pandemic. I’ll note your b’fast rec, and my kids will be thrilled to go back to Crystal Mall in Burnaby for some xlb and boba.

We just went through the nexus process this summer. Do you have an interview, or are you asking about the whole process. I can help, once I know what you need.

Well, we both applied about a year ago, paid, and were granted conditional approval. When we tried to schedule interviews, they weren’t being done in WA. Then we were informed that we had to enter Canada, and then on the return (during certain hours), we’d get sua sponte interviews. Of course if you can’t get into Canada in the fist place, that means no interviews.

Now that Canada has lifted restrictions on non-essential travel, quarantine, etc., I don’t mind jumping through these hoops. But it’d be nice to know what questions the in-person interviewer asked others, etc.

Incidentally, we stopped at Trader Joe’s in Bellingham on the way home, and I picked up an order of Pork Paad See-ew from Thai Maison for dinner. It was definitely good, but not outstanding. They used the same narrow noodles like in Paad Thai, and the dish lacked the smokiness and moisture that we appreciate. We’re going to try your recs.

I’ll message you. This is very different to my understanding.

Well, Rip and Pip Van Winkle have their interviews for Nexus coming up next month (3/23). Why this has taken so long is beyond our understanding.

I’m glad they’ve got their spots. The system is wildly dysfunctional.

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I’m not sure NEXUS does any good on some days. I crossed up to visit a friend in Vancouver early last October & on return the wait was HORRIBLE. It took almost 3 hours to go the last 3 miles before crossing back into the US!!! We sat for ages only to creep forward rarely after someone had given up & u-turned at one of the rare opportunities. Once cars could finally fan out, it went rather quickly but that was only at the very end. What a MESS it was!!! No explanation was given but the border guard was very pleasant.

Thanks for the advice. Our view is that any improvement is welcome. On return from our most recent visits north, it appeared that a big problem is the lack of a dedicated NEXUS lane of sufficient length to get past the jam of regular travelers. Basically that NEXUS travelers have to wait in the regular jam until the very short NEXUS lane begins. Is that what you meant?

That happens at most busy border entries across the US/ Cdn border. It’s often a 2 hour wait at the entries near Buffalo, at Detroit/Windsor, and at Port Huron/Sarnia.

I don’t have Nexus, for some other reasons, but the former Canadian Chowhounds who shop in Buffalo have had it for a long time.

I think it’s kind of funny that some people have an expectation that they won’t have to wait at the Border, or that they should be able to squeak through before everyone else because they paid for Nexus.

Is Nexxus like Global Entry, but for land travel/border crossings?

Our hopeful expectation is only that NEXUS saves us some wait time and scrutiny.

I don’t find the program elitist by virtue of the application fee. NEXUS is part of the Trusted Traveler Program, which pre-screens applicants in order to save them and CBP time and money. Same with the Pre :heavy_check_mark: with TSA. Whether NEXUS actually saves us any time is a question of fact we’ll answer if we finally get approved.

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Yes but it also works for US and Cdn airports.

…with the retinal scan.

This is how one should think of Nexus.

It isn’t like paying off a bouncer, which is how many Nexus-carrying Canadians see Nexus.

But it only works at Canadian or US airports, not globally (?).

That’s right.

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I also don’t think it is elitist, and I’m a person who generally gets mad when people can buy a fast pass at Disney to get to the front of the line or pay money to use the carpool lane as a solo traveler. Nexus is eminently affordable at $50 for 4 yrs. Free for those under 18. If people can’t afford that, then how are they affording going back and forth between the 2 countries? We only got our Nexus this summer after having lived at the border for 15 yrs. Not sure what took us so long. We haven’t even used it yet for the border (planning on changing that soon with a weekend trip for some great Asian eats). But we’ve used and loved it for the TSA pre check it’s afforded us on 2 flights already. It’s a huge timesaver once you can actually get the appt and interview, and apparently, once the traffic at the border clears enough to get to the nexus lane. People aren’t getting through faster because they paid a fee. They’re getting through faster because they agreed to a background check and became a “trusted traveler.” Same at the airport as the border. For those trusted travelers, you don’t have to answer lots of questions, you don’t submit to the extra screening of you and your things, and so the line goes faster.

Otoh, border waits and anger are a real thing. I was just reading a neighbor’s rendition today of his weekend when someone antsy tried to cut in front of a bunch of cars at the border and sideswiped this guys car as he was trying to get back to the USA. It was on the CA side, so BP said they couldn’t help - no jurisdiction. He was seeking advice on what to do with his car and repairs…

If you guys like NEXUS (and Global Entry) then you should try the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). For Americans, once you have Global Entry, it’s an easy add-on. Gets you to the priority immigration lane in almost every country that touches the Pacific ocean. I used it a ton pre-COVID. In China especially it would cut the typical one hour immigration line to maybe 5 minutes max.



@kaleokahu today was the first day we tested our nexus pass at the border. We decided to go have a leisurely lunch and shop at Richmond. Door to door was 4 hrs, and I estimate we saved 3 hrs of waiting at the border all together. It is amazing and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

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Great to hear.

Our interviews are in 10 days. What questions were you asked?

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